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Infant School pushing to report me to SS for neglect. Can they do that?

(554 Posts)
pylonic Tue 08-Jan-13 18:40:40

My DD age 5.5 has had a poor lateness record since the beginning of Year 1. No excuses really, I only lived a 9 minute walk from school but we were late almost every day for at least 6 months. I had trouble sleeping but not to the point of Insomnia, just kept oversleeping through the alarm clock most times (dreaded snooze button).

She's also had some absence, genuine though, illness and doc's appointments.

Last year I was advised by letter that unless lateness improved the school would be referring us to a welfare officer.
3 months ago we had to move out of the village to a nearby town but no transfers in new town for DD so she still attends old school. Because I have had to rely on buses, we have been late again quite a few times, or other people that I have relied on to drive her in for me have been late traffic etc or there's been other logistical problems, so presumably the record isn't improving.

Today the head teacher called my Mum in for a word (I'm 44...why they need to call my Mummy I don't know), and the gist was as follows:

My children are being neglected because I have insomnia (I don't, I just needed to put some excuse down in the late book. Quite tame compared to other regularly late people's excuses), so they want to involve social services.

I have been seen in the village shop with my children buying chocolate bars. And that's it. I don't know what they mean by this? :/

My daughter has turned up without a cardigan on at least two occasions in 'extreme weather'. This constitutes neglect. But they are quick to complain if she's wearing a different colour cardigan to school because her two logo tops are in the wash.

She often has a chocolate drink in her lunchbox.

This is a very cliquey village, hence glad to have left it behind, but although the late record is admittedly quite dire, is it generally worthy of involving social services for neglect?

The head teacher and I "don't have a dialogue" she told my Mum, hence why she called her in to talk to instead.

I've only spoken to the head once, when I had to inform them about the children's father's DV past so that they do not let him take DD out of school without my permission.

I bristle under authority having come into my Catholic rebellion quite late in life, but I'm generally non-combative.

So I'm wondering what you think of my request, in that I want toask the head to write down all the concerns she has so I have it in writing, and then invite her to my home in order that she can ascertain for herself it is a proper, clean, comfortable and sustaining environment for the children.

I feel a bit Hmmmmm that she has gone 'running to my Mummy' instead of talking to me, the parent, especially considering this late book has been full of the same old, same old pupils including my sister's son, for the last couple of years, but I feel a bit singled out perhaps wrongly, I don't know, because of the whole single mother on benefits stereotype, DV background, and now they want social services to investigate the children for neglect.

The children's father also wants to play this card against me, so I'm just resigned to SS being involved in their lives anyway it's out of my control.

My DD is otherwise happy, bright, doing fine at school and paints happy pictures all the time.

Can an infant school really go down this route when there isn't actually any clear signs of any kind of neglect going on? It seems unfair to tar my DD with this brush and I'm also concerned how this is going to affect her In Year transfer to a school in our new town.

I think this is just a rant, it all seems to be out of my control. The head has a reputation for being an axe-grinder and their Ofsted isn't great for a village school. The conspiracy theorist in me is saying its all about the grades.

Hs anyone been investigated by SS before for neglect? What should I expect? Will it go against me in the forthcoming Vafcass report which their father wants to initiate too as part of his contact/custody case?

PotteringAlong Tue 08-Jan-13 19:04:34

Was your mum called in, or was she rung because she's named as a second contact and they couldn't get hold of you?

Charmingbaker Tue 08-Jan-13 19:04:35

It is completely unacceptable for your child to be late on a regular basis. I have taught for many years and children who are regularly late really suffer academically. The start of the day is when the children find out the structure of the day ahead, as well as being introduced to new learning. You are giving your child the message that none of this is important. It is not your daughters fault this is happening and the school are completely justified in reporting you to SS,

OwlLady Tue 08-Jan-13 19:05:09

god i do hope the education wlefare officer gets in touch with me, I will drag my daughters useless social worker over the coals

howdoyouknowjenny Tue 08-Jan-13 19:05:50

Stop being lazy and get out of bed. It is your responsibility to get your child to school on time.

Dont get sidetracked, the main focus for you should be getting dd to school on time. Dont waste time thinking about the rights and wrongs of the heads behaviour think about your own.

LeeCoakley Tue 08-Jan-13 19:05:54

I would imagine that the HT is having a hard time getting through to you that the appalling lateness record is not acceptable. Maybe she thought that talking to your mother might make you decide to do something about it. Stop making excuses and get up earlier for the sake of your dd's education. It's not out of your control. If you are seen to be making an effort the school will support you. And try and get along with the HT, she can make a lot of difference if you are involved with other agencies.

Hobbitation Tue 08-Jan-13 19:06:34

I'm surprised they called SS for neglect without calling you in first about the lateness record. I think you need to be honest with the school, and yourself, have a word with your GP, and work together to sort this out. Also if you really want her to go to a local school instead keep in touch with the local authority to check where she is on the waiting list.

AgentProvocateur Tue 08-Jan-13 19:06:38

The only unreasonable bit is bypassing you and going to your mum. I find that really odd.

As others have said, being constantly late is really not on, and neither is being inappropriately dressed. SS will want to know why your DD is constantly late, and will check that it's not because you are passed out drunk every night, or working a night shift and leaving your child unattended.

The things you mention are all low level indicators of neglect, and the school is right to report it so that you can get support to put measures in place so that it doesn't escalate.

PureQuintessence Tue 08-Jan-13 19:07:21

As an aside, do you work? If you don't, finding a job might get you the incentive you need to get out of bed.

happynewmind Tue 08-Jan-13 19:08:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

amillionyears Tue 08-Jan-13 19:11:57

You need to talk to the Head asap.
Maybe your mum got it wrong between welfare officer and social services?
She may have got other bits wrong to, but you wont know for sure until you speak to the Head.

It wont help that you have been putting insomnia in the lateness book, when you now say it wasnt.

I wouldnt think it all likely that the Head herself would come to your house if you invited her.

I am not a teacher btw.

PeachTown Tue 08-Jan-13 19:14:13

Yes they can refer you. The things you mention may seem insignificant to you but may be indicators that your DC are not being cared for adequately. SS may do nothing but this information may form part of an overall picture if there are any other concerns.

Children can be neglected while being truly loved - it isn't always intentional.

Try to work with everyone who offers help to sort the issues out.

pylonic Tue 08-Jan-13 19:16:57

Oh she's always had a winter coat, it was the two occasions her logo cardigans were in the wash she went I without, but in any event the school has spare fleeces.

It doesn't need to be 'established', it happened, today. Mum was picking up daughter from school, so one of the teachers told her she needed to come inside and speak with the head.

Oh yes I agree it has been laziness probably. I haven't been sleeping well at night for a few years, and just couldn't get out of bed in the morning consequently.

They have assembly for the first half hour of school every day. No lessons.

RyleDup Tue 08-Jan-13 19:18:04

Well being late for school for 6 months, when you only live down the road is rather neglectful of your childs education tbh. I can see the schools point. Theres nothing you can do now apart from let it run its course. Make sure your child is in school on time, catch an earlier bus if you need to. Make sure she's appropriately fed and dressed and talk it over with SSD if they come and visit you.

pylonic Tue 08-Jan-13 19:18:24

No, she wasn't in the shops during school time, they referred to my being seen buying chocolate bars in the village shop, presumably suggesting this is the entirety of my child's diet!

pylonic Tue 08-Jan-13 19:20:03

Pure, she has a full uniform and wears it, including a coat. You haven't read the whole thread.

On two occasions she went in without a cardigan, just a normal non logo cardigan, or none at all, but the school gives a spare out to those without anyway.

EnjoyResponsibly Tue 08-Jan-13 19:23:21

All the issues that the Head can be overcome by you putting a plan in place

-buy enough kit to ensure DC properly dressed
-adhere to lunchbox policy
-get up on time to take children to school

What's to stop you just doing those things? Demonstrate you care about her education.

And lateness is disruptive and not fair on your DD. Even if she isn't missing a lesson she's hanging her coat and bag up after everyone, someone has to take care of her when all the rest are sorted, she goes into assembly and detracts attention. And sooner or later she will cringe at always being the late one.

NorthernLurker Tue 08-Jan-13 19:24:14

I wonder if the Head has spoken to the mother hoping she can improve things and thus avoid the need for SS involvment. Because OP I agree the school are right to raise concerns. Persistent lateness and excuses from a parent, child inadequately dressed and excuses for that (if she has two tops and should wear one why were both 'in the wash'?), lunchbox and observed behaviour seemingly lacking awareness of child's nutritional needs. Previous serious issues in the home. I would be horrified if the school weren't concerned about your child's wellbeing.

You should speak with the Head tomorrow to reassure her the lateness is going to improve and then you need to move hell or high water to get your child to school on time. You need to stop lying to the school now as well. I'm horrified you lied about the insomnia tbh. Forget about the head's reputation and the school's ranking etc - this is NOT about them. It is about YOU.

pylonic Tue 08-Jan-13 19:25:01

Pottering, no she was called in as she picked up my daughter from school. I am available at all times.

mrz Tue 08-Jan-13 19:25:34

So in fact they didn't send for your mum they just asked her as the person picking up your daughter if she had a minute

Mynewmoniker Tue 08-Jan-13 19:27:45

It's not for the school to provide your child with uniform. That's your responsibility. You seem resigned that the school 'owes' you when you can't be arsed.

I think there is more to this story than you are telling us. Schools don't have time to open an investigation without concern. They are too busy trying to educate our kids.

EnjoyResponsibly Tue 08-Jan-13 19:28:00

Also it isn't a conspiracy if you're giving them all the rope they need to hang you.

I'm wondering what form has your "bristling under authority" actually taken?

FlipFlopFloss Tue 08-Jan-13 19:28:21

Repeated lateness is not good and will already have had an affect on your child at school.

Nursery, reception and infant school is about learning about discipline, rules and social skills as much as it is about learning to read and write. Your child needs to be taught by you that getting to school on time is essential, time keeping and getting out the door on time is an essential life skill needed by anyone who ever hopes to hold down a job. Its not just being late and to be honest insomnia is a lame excuse. Kids have to take priority over pretty much EVERYTHING. If you got to school one morning and found no staff there because they all slept through the snooze button because they were exhausted from insomnia - would you not be a bit pissed off??? What concerns me is your post seems to imply you don't think this is a big thing at all.

I suspect the repeated lateness has red flagged your child and now they will find things that they may dismiss with other children. Altogether though I can see why they are concerned. They have duty of care and you sleeping in has drawn this attention on your child.

I do think it is very very wrong that have called in your mother and spoken to her over you. However, why is this? Are you rude or have a history of being rude to staff? This doesnot make them chatting to your mum right but may go part the way to explain why.

I would be requesting a meeting with the head and being polite and calm in my approach and asking how you can work with the school to help and improve things for your DC. Don't go armed with a list of excuses but perhaps explain about the buses. I would also have hoped that as the buses re so regularly dreadful and late that you would have already done 2 things.
1) complain EVERY time to the bus company
2) get an earlier bus (perhaps eat breakfast on the bus if necessary).

Perhaps you can suggest you will do this to the head. However, I doubt now the decision has been made to report you to SS that it will be withdrawn but you now need to be making HUGE efforts to prove you can do a better job and are doing all you can improve the situation.

mercibucket Tue 08-Jan-13 19:28:32

It's good that the school want this investigating as many of these things taken together could signal a neglected child

It's not good that the head told your mum all this, even if she does the pick up/drop offs. Are you sure it's not your mum trying to get you to up your game by claiming the school is worried?

Hulababy Tue 08-Jan-13 19:29:54

You really need to get on top of the punctuality situation. It is very disruptive for your DD, her class and her teacher. It is also setting some very poor habits for your DD - when she is taking herself to secondary school it'll be built in that it is okay to be late. It needs stopping asap. And yes - this is something that schools take very seriously and they have a duty to refer higher if no improvement after a "warning" letter.

Registration time is a time when children and teachers have a quick chat, pass on information, note dinner options, etc.

Assemblies in my school can include a fair bit of learning, just on a whole school/year basis. It may be notices being given out, information about an event or policy begin implemented, part of the phse topic, etc.

The cardigan thing I reckon wouldn't have even come up if not part of the bigger picture.

The chocolate milk - depends on the school packed lunch policy. Very easy to prevent though - just don't put it in.

pylonic Tue 08-Jan-13 19:30:18


She has a full kit and wears it. This applies to two occasions last year.

There is no lunchbox policy.

We live 4 miles from school, where my mother can't help due to illness, I can no longer afford to bus her in anyway, so lateness will always be an issue for the time being until she's transferred.

Where has the nutrition issue crept in from? Sandwiches, juice, apple and a fruit mousse or other snack are perfectly acceptable lunchbox contents. This is provincial east midlands, not organic hummus and spiced legumes all round south Putney.

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